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Category: Tax Advice

What is a "Qualifying Child"?

 

A “qualifying child” may enable a taxpayer to claim several tax benefits, such as Head of Household filing status, the exemption for a dependent, the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit and the earned income tax credit (EIC). See the qualifications listed below.

 

In general, to be a taxpayer’s qualifying child, a person must satisfy five (5) tests: 

 

 

1. Relationship — the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these.

2. Age — must be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year, or be permanently and totally disabled (regardless of age) at any time during the year.

3. Residence — for more than half the tax year, the child lived with you. Exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents, kidnapped children, temporary absences, and for children who were born or died during the year.

4. Support — child did not provide more than of their own support for the year.

5. Joint Return — a joint return can't be filed by the child. 



If a child is claimed as a qualifying child by two or more taxpayers in a given year, the child will be the qualifying child of:

* the parent, (if only one of the taxpayers is the child's parent);

* if more than one taxpayer is the child’s parent, the one with whom the child lived for the longest time during the year. If the time was equal, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI) for the tax  year can claim the qualifying child.

* if no taxpayer is the child’s parent, the taxpayer with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI) for the tax year.


Additional Rules
There are some additions or variations that apply:

 

Dependent a qualifying child must also meet these tests:

* Nationality — be a U.S. citizen or national, or a resident of the U.S., Canada or Mexico. There is an exception for certain adopted children.

* Marital status — if married, did not file a joint return for that year, unless the return is filed only as a claim for refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse if they had filed separate returns.

 

Head of Household Filing Status a qualifying child is determined without regard to the exception for children of divorced or separated parents. Also, a qualifying child who is married at the end of the year must meet the marital status and nationality tests for a dependent (above).

 

Credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses — a qualifying child must be under the age of 13 or permanently and totally disabled. A qualifying child is determined without regard to the exception for children of divorced or separated parents and the exception for kidnapped children.

 

Child Tax Credit — a qualifying child must be under age 17 and a U.S. citizen or national or a U.S. resident.

 

Earned Income Tax Credit — a qualifying child does not have to meet the support test. Also, a qualifying child must have lived with the taxpayer in the United States for more than half the year and have a social security number that is valid for employment in the United States. A qualifying child is determined without regard to the exception for children of divorced or separated parents. If a qualifying child is married, he or she must also meet the marital status and nationality tests for a dependent (above).